Knox Beer Snobs

Beer City & Brewgrass Festivals; Why these need to be on your radar

Hello fellow beer snobs! I hope you are enjoying this brisk Saturday in East Tennessee. I’m writing today about two very important festivals you need to put on your calendars. Don’t worry, you’ve got time, but tickets for these two festivals sell fast and will be going on sale here in a month or two. The dates have been penciled in and if this interests you then you need to start making plans now.

Before I go any further I want to go ahead and tell you that I cannot do these festivals justice with a mere blog post and a few pictures. Should you choose to go, you will have fun and you will try some tasty beer. Now, let’s get the specifics out of the way.

What: The Beer City Festival and The Brewgrass Festival
When: The Beer City: June 4th & The Brewgrass Festival September 17th (tentative – they always shoot for 3rd weekend in September).
Where: Asheville, NC.
Why do I care? I’m glad you asked – here we go!

The Beer City Festival

2010 was the inaugural year for The Beer City Festival. The same great people that put on The Brewgrass Festival, which we’ll get to in a moment, also put on this festival. It was, in my opinion, a resounding success. This festival is held in the heart of downtown Asheville – Beer City USA. The venue couldn’t be better – a wide open expanse (Roger McGuire Green) in front of the city/county court house buildings that is absolutely perfect for this type of thing. They also have fountains that are great for cooling off that hot June sun between great beverages. While brewers come from all over the place, the NC brewers really made a strong appearance here in 2010. They also didn’t just come with a little beer to share – they came with A LOT of beer to share not to mention some one off’s and specialty brews. For those not in the know, there is something like 9-10 breweries just around Asheville – check this out. Asheville is proud of it’s brews and the people that make it happen. You’d be hard pressed to walk into a bar/restaurant in the Asheville area and NOT find some local brews on tap. The Asheville Brewers Alliance (ABA) does a great job promoting the area’s beer and putting on events just like this. Also expect some great local bands to be playing tunes throughout the festival. This festival isn’t just about beer & tunes though, it’s also about giving back to the local community. Proceeds from this event go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Western North Carolina as well as supporting the ABA.

For those of us in fabulous Knox-vegas, this is a GREAT opportunity to enjoy Asheville brews as well as the surrounding beauty of this great town. You can be in Asheville in less than 2 hours and there are several great places to stay nearby. We tend to gravitate towards the Renaissance but there’s also a Sheraton and several other hotels nearby. More than anything else though, we strongly encourage you to STAY THE NIGHT and DO NOT DRIVE. There will be some high gravity beer there and with the hot sun – well, we’ve all been there. Designated Driver tickets will be available. We suggest you make it a fun weekend with the Mrs/Mr, bring your friends, let grandma and grandpa have some quality time with the young’ns – you’ll be glad you did. Make it a weekend – go check out some of the breweries, stop by Bruisin’ Ales and enjoy this town. If you want some dinner suggestions, give us a shout on FB, Twitter or in the comments.

The Beer City Festival is also on Facebook and Twitter. From the FB updates it sounds like they are in the final stages of planning with the City of Asheville so keep an eye on them as I’d expect some ticket announcements here shortly. Tickets are limited and THEY WILL SELL OUT. I cannot stress this enough and that’s why I’m telling you about this NOW. Mark your calendars and follow these guys – we’ll also post on our Twitter and FB pages when these tickets go on sale. Last year was $35 to give you a reference point – and you do get a tasting glass with admission.

The Brewgrass Festival

I believe 2011 will mark the 15th Annual Brewgrass Festival. If you have to choose between Beer City and Brewgrass – you need to do Brewgrass at least once in your life. It is a very similar to The Beer City festival but is instead held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. This beer snob missed last year’s Brewgrass due to conflict but as of right now it’s looking good for 2011. Brewgrass is typically held on the 3rd weekend in September. For those of us in East Tennessee that is a notable weekend for one other reason; the Florida game. In year’s pastI’ve gotten by with ESPN mobile coverage and by conversing with other VOL fans attending the festival (and there are). It is, of course, a tough choice. This festival is an absolute blast but I cannot make that choice for you.

I may be completely wrong but from what I remember, it seems a few more brewers show up to this festival than Beer City BUT Beer City was in it’s first year and that could all change in 2011. My wife did note that the kettle corn guy is always at Brewgrass and we didn’t see him at Beer City – this is important to her and therefore important to me. We always seem to end up with a winter’s supply of kettle corn after each Brewgrass.

Another notable difference is that bluegrass music (thus the “grass” part of “Brewgrass”) is the music of choice for this gathering and it’s always great. You may even see a few people flat foot a bit (more so later in the day).

Brewgrass also supports the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Western North Carolina and I don’t know about you but I particularly like the fact that the money I put towards tickets supports a great cause.

The hotels mentioned above are also well within walking distance of the MLK Jr. Park – and again, we strongly suggest that you STAY THE NIGHT and DON’T DRIVE. Designated Driver tickets will be available.

Now, here’s the deal with Brewgrass. Not only will it sell out, it will sell out quickly. Last year tickets sold out in something like 21 hours. So, if you want to go you gotta be Johnny on the spot when these things go on sale. Brewgrass is also on Facebook and Twitter. I would expect to see these tickets on sale within the next month or so as well. As we learn more, we’ll keep you posted.

While Knoxville has come a long way in terms of craft beer availability, we are very fortunate to have some great breweries less than 2 hours away in a very beautiful part of Western North Carolina. These events are something we look forward to every year as it’s a great way to try a lot of great beer and contribute to a great cause.

If you have any questions or anything to add to what I’ve written let’s hear it in the comments below. Hope to see you there!